Le freak c'est Chick
12 February 2021-
Legendary Jazz pianist Chick Corea passed away a few days ago. With him gone, a chapter of contemporary music closes...
We found out yesterday that Chick Corea, one of the greatest jazzmen, pianists and musicians — period — who ever lived had died on February 9th. He was 79 and had recently been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, so this was the sad outcome to be expected, but losing any life is a tragedy — let alone that of a genius of Corea’s stature.
You don’t have to be a Jazz expert to acknowledge the virtuosity of the man here. Despite the fact that he didn’t actually pursue much of a formal musical education, leaving Columbia’s musical program after 1 month and Juilliard after 6, Corea was an obvious virtuoso at his instrument — and not just that one: having also played drums since childhood, his musicality shone in a truly universal way. It is a surprise to no one that he would be found playing with equal ease improvisational Jazz fusion or Béla Bartók pieces. Genius is genius.
You don’t have to be an expert of any kind to salute the remarkable versatility of Corea’s compositions either. Starting out as a Jazz pianist, and going through the best Jazz school there ever was in the form of Mile Davis‘ band, he quickly displayed unparalleled prowess in improvising on-stage, which happened to be what Davis was so keen on. But that was only the starting point: the artist then developed a Jazz fusion style that readily encompassed Rock, Latin music as well as Funk or RnB, all with equal ease. That is what made his music — and that of fellow Davis alum and pianist extraordinaire Herbie Hancock — truly groundbreaking, as it uniquely displayed the diversity of contemporary music.
You don’t have to be a music person to finally grasp the numbers. Over a 5+ decades-long career, Corea released dozens of albums with a variety of formations, getting 60 Grammy nominations — and earning 23. Only judging the man by the numbers would be extraordinarily reductive, though, perhaps even antithetical to his very music. So let’s keep it at that: rest in peace, Mr Corea, in all your unfathomable glory…